Sheryl Sandberg: Congress should release Facebook ads to public

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says Congress should release the ads Russian operatives purchased on Facebook to the public, while noting that Facebook owed the country an "apology."

In an interview with Axios' Mike Allen at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Sandberg said the American public should see the ads that were purchased by Russian operatives to try and influence the 2016 U.S. election.  "Absolutely ... we think it's important they get the whole picture," Sandberg said during the interview.

Sandberg added that Facebook is working with Congress on this, giving them information to the suspicious organic posts, which were not related to advertising.


The tech exec, a noted supporter of Hillay Clinton's campaign, also said that Facebook owed the country an apology for the role it played in letting these ads end up on their platform. "Not just apology," Sandberg said. "We owe the American people determination."

Last month, Facebook disclosed that it found $100,000 in fraudulent advertising on its platform, posted by fake accounts. Roughly 3,000 ads were purchased and approximately 10 million people saw the ads.

When asked if Facebook was confident it had found everything, Sandberg said Facebook has done a "thorough job" from this particular Russian actor (which she declined to name), but asked for more help from intelligence agencies. "We're doing everything we can to follow up on every lead," Sandberg added.

Sandberg skirted the issue of when Facebook first found out about the Russian interference, but did reference Facebook's 2017 security white paper on the issue. She also attempted to skirt the question whether there was an overlap in ad targeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian accounts, but said that the targeting information would eventually be released.

In a Facebook Live chat last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network would hand over to Congress the political ads purchased by Russian operatives and the company would "strengthen our ad review process for political ads."


Freedom of expression and fake news

The tech exec was repeatedly pressed on whether or not Facebook was a media company and should be regulated as one. She attempted to hammer home the point that it is a platform company, but that it still has responsibilities.

"Facebook is a new kind of platform, we're not a media company," she said. "We're a technology company at heart, but we do have responsibilities and we take them seriously."

Freedom of expression has become a hot button issue on social media over the past several months, most recently with Twitter, which disallowed anti-abortion ads from Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

Sandberg, despite her support of Planned Parenthood (Blackburn has fought against it, saying "we stopped the sale of baby body parts"), said the ads should have been allowed to run.

She also attempted to define fake news, something President Trump has railed against repeatedly.

"Fake news are hoaxes...It's actually financially motivated," Sandberg said.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @chris_ciaccia. Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.